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Brian, Auto Service Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 1227
Experience:  5 years Ford Technical Hotline/Service Engineer. 2005 Ford Master Cert. Automotive Technology degree
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2000 Ford Expedition: the headlights, the engine dies..intermittent

Customer Question

2000 Ford Expedition. Turn on the headlights, the engine dies. This is intermittent. Also, the Air Bag lamp is flashing Code 37. Our dealer says the ABS module has failed. This seems like an electical fault, not ABS. Any ideas?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Brian replied 9 years ago.
The airbag system and the ABS are two different things. ABS stands for anti-lock brake system. The code 37 is for the side airbag on the passenger seat. The code refers to a problem in the circuit for this airbag, usually it is a bad connection under the seat. Often, disconnecting and reconnecting the connectors under the seat will be enough to refresh the connection and get rid of the code. The code could also mean a wire is broken, or shorted to power or ground. To know for sure will require some testing if the disconnect/reconnect does not help. The airbag module should not need to be replaced. It is simply doing its job of monitoring the airbag circuits for problems. When it senses a problem, it will flag a code and flash out the light. Iif the problem continues, it may be necessary to take further testing steps to isolate and correct the wiring issue.

The problem with the stalling is unrelated to the airbag light. Since it is intermittent, you will need to be noticing if there is any pattern or outside factor like the weather that seems to influence when it happens. These vehicles are known to develop water leaks around the edge of the windshield on the driver side, and the water will leak down onto the GEM and Central Junction Box (fuse box under the dash). The water forms corrosion and short circuiting can occur. One common symptom of this is when the climate control fan stays on after turning the key off. There could also be a low voltage problem due to corrosion or a bad connection, and when the headlights turn on, the voltage dips low enough to cause a loss of power to the PCM or PCM relay, perhaps.
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Customer: replied 9 years ago.

Brian, thanks for your answer. Yes, the Air Bag is different from the ABS/EBCM and I will look at the connections at the seat and in the dash. I have some great sons who have put in all the stereo, radar and other "stuff" over the years and now something has failed. The Ford dealer couldn't find the problem and finally decided to blame it on the EBCM/ABS. I think they just took a guess, but this is behaving like an electrical short or intermittent connection. Today I drove around the block with no issues at all, then, it happened. I went to turn the lights on and the engine sputtered and tried to die.


Tomorrow we will disconnect the last "add-ins", including the alarm system, and see where we end up. Any further directions would be appreciated. I just figured it is best to get back to basics and see what happens.


All the best,


Expert:  Brian replied 9 years ago.
Ford had issues with the side air bag circuits on several vehicles. The airbag module's threshold for circuit resistance is very tight, and a slight amount of oxidation can build up over time, which is just enough to cause it to set the code 37 intermittently. The module uses a very small test current and measures the voltage drop to detect increases in resistance. So, even a small amount of oxidation at a connection is enough to trip a code. Also, watch out for anything shoved under or installed under the seats. The wiring can get pushed around and damaged from that as well.